October 26, 2007

Review:The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleep Hollow
By Washington Irving

Who doesn't remember watching the Disney cartoon version of this tale? It was great because of the ultra dorky Ichabod Crane and it's frightening image of The Headless Horseman at the end. It is another one of those cultural classics that everyone knows about but no one seems to have read. And like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it is so short that there is really no excuse to have not read it.

It is the story of Ichabod Crane. The name just about says it all. He is the extremely tall and slender, red haired and freckled(hey, what's wrong with that?) school teacher to the country bumpkins of Sleepy Hollow, a town that is just a bit more superstitious than your average podunk town. As he is leaving a party "at the witching hour" he encounters the town's most legendary ghost, the Headless Horseman. Is it real or not?

When I first started reading this 45 page story I loved all the descriptions of the county and the people but it soon became much too tedious. Irving is one of those writers who uses twice as many words as are necessary to tell a good tale. What a phenomenal vocabulary! It gives one an extremely clear picture but in the process I lost interest in looking around. But it's only 45 pages, and I knew there was a good part at the end so I stuck with it and was rewarded. It is not a story to make the reader's heart pound but to make him smile at Crain's reactions. There is quite a bit of comical imagery not to be missed. And when all is said and done you can say you've read the story for yourself.

I have seen the Johnny Depp movie but it's been so long ago now that I remember very little except that it was corny and pretty stupid to boot. It was a completely different story from the one Washington Irving tells.

This is the story that I chose to replace Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on my RIP II Challenge list. There is a significant difference between 830 pages and 45, but that was precisely the point. I want to complete the challenge while being reasonable in my expectations for myself. Besides, I already spent 2 weeks with that I could have read several other acceptable books for this challenge. Now I can concentrate on finishing the two short story collections I'm into before Halloween. I'm not breaking any rules. Carl said I could.


Eva said...

Oh-I loved the Johhny Depp movie! It was so funny. :D Different strokes for different folks I guess. Congrats on finishing the RIP II Challenge!

cj said...

I think I actually read the story way back when... but I could just be remembering Disney. I'll have to check it out.


pussreboots said...

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite Halloween stories. :D

Nymeth said...

I love the Tim Burton movie version, but you're right, it tells a completely different story.

I read this last Halloween and I enjoyed it. He does tend to go on and on, but it helps create the mood, I guess. It took me longer to read than a 45 page book normally would, but in the end I was glad I'd picked it up.

Petunia said...

Eva-I still have the Ghost Stories of Wharton to finish before I will consider myself done with the RIP challenge but that should be easy to finish as I've read several of the stories throughout the challenge all ready.

CJ-The Disney version ranks up there with A Charlie Brown Christmas so me. Brings back fond childhood memories.

Puss-isn't it a great one?

Nymeth-I think I'm just picky about my movies. Depp can be a wonderful actor but I don't care much for the majority of his movies.

snackywombat said...

it says something that of all the "serious" things that irving wrote and did, what survive him most are the tales-- sleepy hollow and rip van winkle. great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this review brought back memories of probably my first year in high school when I was twelve or so. This was one of the first - if not the first - book I read in English (English is not my native language). All of a sudden I see the school library in my mind. I spent hours there, reading, doing my homework, chatting with the cool librarian we had.

Petunia said...

Snacky-I think Disney had a lot to do with it, at least for my generation.

Myrthe-looks like it was a pleasant memory. Glad I could assist. =)

Trish said...

Bleh - I finished this challenge a little late. :( I love Irving, but his language is a little more representative of his time...now we try to be concise, which sometimes leaves me wanting more. Have you read Rip Van Winkle?

Petunia said...

Yes, a few years ago. I remember feeling the same exact way about his writing then too.